Friday, November 19, 2010

Relief Valve

I'm behind on my TV watching because I was out of town last weekend, and Jason has been away, but I finally caught up on Grey's Anatomy from last Thursday, and Meredith Grey had a line that hit home for me right now. She was talking in her voice-over about the pressure that surgeons feel, and she said, "Every pressurized system needs a relief valve."

The line jumped out at me because I'm learning this exact lesson right now, this week, and it was satisfying to recognize that I have found a relief valve for myself in an entirely new way. When Jason was in LA last week, I rushed around like a crazy person, trying to cram a month's worth of activity and writing and packing and cleaning and Christmas preparation into a six day period.

By the time we got to Canmore, I was exhausted and stressed and an absolute bear to be around. I had tainted a get-away I had planned and looked forward to for months because I shot myself in the foot, yet again, and didn't take the time to figure out what was going on under the surface and contributing to my stress level. Getting to Canmore, staring at the majestic view, having leisure in the form of swim time forced on me by my kids, was exactly what I needed to stop racing around and start listening to what that still, small voice was trying to say.

I learned a lot that weekend. Talking and praying with a couple of friends was most helpful, as was simply slowing down, and facing the fact that I'm tired of living out the same pattern of self-imposed stress and anxiety. We got home and for one reason and another, Jason was out of the house or out of town every night this past week, but I was different.

I read more. I stayed home because it was dumping snow, and I played some games with William. I made hot chocolate in the middle of the afternoon and called friends to chat, so I didn't feel so lonely. I puttered around, writing a little when I could, but the relief valve was cracked enough to let some steam out, and I discovered that my shoulders were back to where they belong instead of being bunched under my ears.

I've been telling myself that I have time for everything I want to accomplish in life, because it doesn't have to be done today. Writing novels, memoirs and screenplays is a slow process when you are the mom of a preschooler, and I must accept that fact. I will have more time in the future, but I won't ever get this time with William back. I missed a lot of his early babyhood because I was so driven to succeed in my stamping business, and I have this time to make that up to him.

A curious thing happened each evening this week: I wasn't so tired and crabby and desperate for my kids to go to bed. I could feel the relaxation in my body and my mind, and I guarantee that my kids have noticed this change in me. It's much better, all around. My word count may be down, but my life satisfaction and overall health are up, and those are qualities that affect everything else, and must be prioritized higher as life moves on from here.


  1. No matter the age of your kids, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Taking time to refuel is the best thing you can do for your family and your writing. You're doing great!

  2. Thanks for the kind feedback - much appreciated! I enjoyed chatting with you today. :)